Planet Holiday: The World’s Major Tourist Destinations

How to Land a Jumbo JetTourist season is in full swing, especially in the wealthy parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Recent figures released by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer state that “international tourist arrivals reached 1,138 million in 2014, a 4.7% increase over the previous year.”
I mapped the grographical patterns of global tourism for the book ‘How to Land a Jumbo Jet‘ published by Lonely Planet. The following cartogram shows the countries of the world resized according to international tourist arrivals with the top 10 destinations also labelled (and listed on the bottom right corner), coloured in Worldmapper-style colours:

Planet Holiday: International Tourist Arrivals
(click for larger version)


The overall patterns of global tourist destinations have remained fairly stable over the past decade. Comparing the 2003 picture featured on Worldmapper to the updated one above, the major regions have hardly changed in their global shares also during periods that saw absolute revenues from tourism in decline (such as since the course of the global recession in 2008). Quoting again from the World Tourism Barometer, global tourist destinations in 2014 looked as follows:
Europe (+4%), the most visited region with over half of the world’s international tourists, saw an increase of 22 million arrivals in 2014, reaching a total of 588 million. Thanks to these results, tourism has been a major contributor to the European economic recovery. Northern Europe and Southern and Mediterranean Europe led growth (both +7%), while results were more modest in Western Europe (+2%). Arrivals in Central and Eastern Europe (0%) stagnated after three years of strong growth.
International tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific (+5%) increased by 13 million to 263 million. The best performance was recorded in North-East Asia and South Asia (both +7%). Arrivals in Oceania grew by 6%, while growth slowed down in South-East Asia (+2%) as compared to previous years.
The Americas was the best performing region in relative terms with growth of 7%, welcoming an additional 13 million international tourists and raising the total to 181 million. Growth was driven by North America (+8%), where Mexico posted a double-digit increase, and the Caribbean (+7%). Arrivals to Central America and South America (both +6%) grew at double the rate recorded in 2013 and well above the world average.
International tourism in the Middle East (+4%) shows signs of rebound with good results in most destinations. The region attracted an additional 2 million arrivals, bringing the total to 50 million. Africa’s international tourist numbers grew by an estimated 2%, equivalent to an increase of one million arrivals. The region reached 56 million tourists. While arrivals to North Africa were weak (+1%), Sub-Saharan Africa saw international tourist numbers rise by 3% despite the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in a few West African countries. Data for Africa and the Middle East should be read with caution as it is based on limited and volatile data.

Other maps included in the Lonely Planet infographics book show the world population, the remotest places on Earth, and the most crowded air spaces on the planet. Further questions answered from the other graphics include the best place to experience a volcano, which nation is the proudest in the world, or why your luggage occasionally disappear on flights. How to land a jumbo jet can be ordered from the Lonely Planet website. Here are some examples from the book:

A Lonely Planet Map / Cartogram of the Remotest Place on the Planet
Download a pdf preview from the book pdf icon

A modified version of this map was published in How to land a jumbo jet published by Lonely Planet. The content on this page has been created by Benjamin Hennig. Please contact me for further details on the terms of use.

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